Brewing a gallon of tea might seem daunting, but it’s really not that difficult. All you need is the right supplies and some patience. But do you know how many tea bags to use for a gallon of tea?
In this article, we’ll walk you through the process step-by-step and show you how to make a gallon of delicious tea using just a few tea bags. So gather up your supplies and let’s get started!
Why Make a Gallon of Tea?
We have a family of six, so whenever we make tea we usually make at least half a gallon, and usually a whole gallon, so we do this often.
Today I’ll show you the way we make our gallon of tea the easy way, no matter what size tea bags you have. This works for whatever type of tea you have, green tea, black tea, white tea, or even herbal tea.
Make a gallon of tea when you have several people needing a drink, and also if you want the convenience of having some tea ready to go in the fridge.
What you need to make a gallon of tea
To make a gallon of tea, you’ll need a gallon of water plus your tea bags. You’ll also need a container to heat the water in and, optionally, another container to hold the finished tea in.
You can heat your water in a kettle on the stove, in an electric tea kettle, or even with a Keurig (which is what we do). If you’re using a stovetop kettle, be sure to have a lid for it. We used our stovetop kettle until it died, and I always loved hearing it whistle on the stove.
If you don’t have a way to heat your water to boiling in your home, you can also use a microwave safe container and heat the water in 2-3 minute intervals until it comes to a boil. Just be careful when handling the hot water.
So, here is a recap of what you’ll need:
- Gallon of water
- Tea bags
- Container to heat your water in
- Container to hold the finished tea (we use a gallon pitcher)
- Sweetener (optional)
The general rule for how many tea bags to use
The number of tea bags you’ll need will depend on the size of your tea bags. Most commercial tea bags are considered “regular” size, and for those you’ll need about 16 bags for a gallon of tea (one per cup).
If you have family size tea bags, you’ll need only four of them, as each bag makes a quart and there are four quarts in a gallon.
You can use this as a general rule and change up the number of tea bags per gallon depending on your tastes. If you like your tea strong, use more tea bags. If you like it weaker, use fewer tea bags. Typically I like to do a little less than is called for when making a gallon of tea for my family.
If you’re unsure what size you have, simply check the container the bags come in. The family size ones will tell you to use 4 cups of water per bag (ours says to use 2 cups, then add 2 more after brewing), and the regular ones tell you to use 1 cup of water per bag.
How to make a gallon of tea
Now that you know what you’ll need, here are the simple steps for making your gallon of tea.
1. Heat half of the water to boiling or close to it. You don’t need to bring the entire gallon to a boil, in fact, we use the largest cup setting on our Keurig, which is less than 2 cups.
We used to have a stovetop kettle and would heat that until it whistled. You can boil you water on the stovetop, microwave or even use the hot water from the Keurig, which is how we brew ours now. (Just pretend to put a cup in it and hit the largest cup setting and it will run hot water through the machine and into your large cup).
Expert Tip: Do NOT put your tea bags into the boiling water. This releases bitter compounds that will ruin your tea. Take if off of the heat and let it sit for a minute or two.
2. Add your tea bags to the hot water. If you’re using regular size tea bags, add 16 of them (one per cup). If you’re using family size tea bags, add four of them to the hot water. (Or adjust to your preferences. It takes a bit of trial and error to find the perfect ratio for you)
3. Allow the tea to brew for 3-5 minutes, then remove the tea bags and discard them. If you want to sweeten your tea, do so now. We typically add a cup of sugar per gallon (sometimes 1/4 cup more) because we are Southern and like it sweet, although not McD’s sweet!
4. Pour the tea into a clean gallon size container, add enough water and ice to equal a gallon and refrigerate until ready to drink. The tea will stay fresh for several days in the fridge.
See? Easy peasy – especially once you make it a few times. We give this job to our oldest son who is 12 and he uses the Keurig to heat the water and make perfect tea every time!
Tips for making perfect iced tea
Now that you know how to make a gallon of tea, here are a few expert tips for making it even better.
1. Start with good quality water. This may seem like an obvious tip, but if your water doesn’t taste good to begin with, it’s not going to taste any better as tea. We have hard water here and while it’s safe to drink, it doesn’t taste great, so we use a water filtration system that makes a big difference in the taste of our tea.
2. Use fresh, cold water. This is especially important if you’re boiling your water on the stovetop. The fresher the water, the better the tea will taste.
3. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then take it off of the heat and let it sit for a minute or two before adding the tea bags. This allows the water to cool slightly so that it doesn’t release bitter compounds from the tea bags.
4. Allow the tea to brew for 3-5 minutes, then remove the tea bags and discard them. Be careful not to brew your tea too long as this can also make your tea bitter. We usually choose 4 minutes to be right in the middle of the recommendation when making black tea. We will do 3 minutes for green tea.
Variations on the basic recipe
This not only works for black tea, although that’s what we use most often because we like sweet iced tea, but it works for any type of tea.
1. If you want to make flavored tea, add a few drops of your favorite extract to the hot water before adding the tea bags. This is a great way to make things like lemon, orange or raspberry tea.
2. You can also add fresh fruit to your tea for flavor. We love putting fresh strawberries in our tea during the summer. Just add a few slices of fruit per gallon to the hot tea before refrigerating.
3. If you want to make sun tea, simply follow the recipe above, but instead of boiling your water and adding ice to the tea, put it in a glass jar and set it in the sun for a few hours. The heat from the sun will brew the tea and the tea will be delicious when you’re ready to drink it.
4. For a special treat, add a splash of your favorite juice to your iced tea. This is especially delicious with peach, pineapple or mango juice. (This is called fruit tea and is another Southern staple.)
5. If you want to make a lower calorie version of sweet tea, use a sugar substitute or add a little less sugar than the recipe calls for. I love the powdered Monk Fruit sweetener for my tea.
Common Questions about Brewing a Gallon of Tea
For regular size teabags, you will need 16 tea bags for a gallon of water, as the ratio is one tea bag per cup and a gallon has 16 cups. If you use family size teabags, you will need 4 because these make 1 quart each, and there are 4 quarts in a gallon.
Yes you can! It doesn’t make the tea bitter, it just makes it super strong if you add too many tea bags for a gallon. The most tea bags recommended for a gallon is 16 regular size (1 per cup) and 4 family size tea bags (1 per quart).
The rule around here in the South is one cup for a decently sweet glass of iced tea. Often I will add 1 1/4 cup of sugar to a gallon since I like mine a little sweeter, but if you want the McD’s Southern Sweet Tea you will need to add more (a lot more!).
No! You can actually do cold brew tea in which you leave the tea bags in the water for 8-12 hours refrigerated. Cold brew iced tea is also delicious.
You can use loose leaf tea as well, although its not as common for a gallon of tea. Typically loose tea is used for a cup at a time. Check the instructions on your container to figure out how much loose leaf tea to use for a gallon.
Brewing a gallon of tea is easy to do and only requires a few minutes of your time. Once you get the hang of it, you can make all sorts of variations on the basic recipe to create delicious flavored teas. And, if you’re ever in the South, be sure to try our famous sweet tea!
How to Brew a Gallon of Tea
- container to hold hot water
- container to hold brewed tea
- 1 gallon water
- 16 regular sized tea bags or 4 family sized bags
- 1 cup sweetener optional
- Heat 1-2 quarts of water to a boil and remove from heat.
- Add tea bags and let sit for 3-5 minutes, then remove tea bags.
- Sweeten if desired.
- Pour hot tea into pitcher, then add enough ice/water to fill to the gallon line.
- Refrigerate until ready to drink and store in refrigerator up to 5 days.